1st Edition

Two-Way Knowledge Transfer in Nineteenth Century China The Scottish Missionary-Sinologist Alexander Wylie (1815–1887)

By Ian Gow Copyright 2023
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is a biography of a remarkable Scottish missionary worker, Alexander Wylie, a classical nineteenth century artisan and autodidact with a gift and passion for languages and mathematics. He made significant contributions to knowledge transfer, both to and from China: in missionary work as a printer, playing an important role in the production and distribution of a new Chinese translation of the Bible; as a teacher, translating into Chinese key western texts in science and mathematics including Newton and Euclid and publishing the first Chinese textbooks on modern symbolic algebra, calculus and astronomy; and as a writer in English and an internationally recognised major sinologist, bringing to the West much knowledge of China and contributing extensively to the development of British sinology. The book concludes with an overall evaluation of Wylie’s contribution to knowledge transfer to and from China, noting the imbalance between the significant corpus of scholarly work specifically on Wylie by Chinese scholars in Chinese and the lack of academic studies by western scholars in English.


    Part 1: The British Road to China

    1. The British Discovery of China

    2. The British Protestant Missionary Encounter with China

    Part 2: From Printer-Missionary to Bible Agent

    3. Wylie’s London Missionary Society Years (1847-1860)

    4. Wylie’s British and Foreign Bible Society Years (1863-1877)

    Part 3: From Printer-Missionary to Missionary-Sinologist

    5. Wylie’s Translations as Knowledge Transfer to China

    6. Wylie’s Other Contributions to Knowledge Transfer

    7. Knowledge Transfer from China – Wylie as Sinologist

    8. Wylie's Other Contributions to Knowledge Transfer from China

    9. Legacy and Final Years



    Professor Ian Gow after a career teaching and researching on East Asian studies is now an Honorary Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. In the latter decades of his career he was involved in leading knowledge transfer activity through delivering degrees and research programmes from the UK to China. He served as Founding Provost of the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China’s first Sino-Foreign Joint Venture University. He was also founding Principal of the Sino-British University College in Shanghai, a consortium of 9 British Universities and the Shanghai University of Science and Technology.